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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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The second part of the Canada trip was to stop at Montreal for a day and explore that city. This first meant getting to the hotel. Due, again, to costs for staying downtown, the election was made this time to stay away from the town, at the airport (10-20 kilometers away from the downtown area). After a frustrating few hours of trying to find a cheap but not horrific place to stay, ended up seeing the Montreal Airport Hilton for a reasonable rate.

Whatever you do, do not stay at the Montreal Airport Hilton. It is a shit hole.

The bidet was broken; it just sprayed water on the floor. The decor was decades old. The room was clean, sort of, beyond the mildew stains around the windows and in the bathroom. The air conditioning worked. The heat didn’t. It was almost freezing outside; we didn’t need air conditioning. We called housekeeping about the lack of heat; they offered to send a heater. A minute later they called back and said they were out of heaters, because everybody else needed one, because they too were freezing their asses off. They did send us some blankets though. Goldenrod blankets from the Nixon administration with tears, rips, and holes.

Fleeing the room and fearing any other surprises, McDonald’s was selected as the evening eating destination. It was better than domestic McDonald’s; they have the same sandwiches, but with less shit. And they serve them on ciabatta rolls. It was good. They also have vinegar packets and poutine.

The next morning, a late brunch was had with some friends. It was really a fantastic time. We got to their house at around 10, and settled on the back porch, where three courses of food were served: fruit, quiche and salmon, and pastries. Coffee, juice, and so forth as well. Conversation was fascinating; our hosts were joined by a couple from France who used to own a bed and breakfast. The different perceptions, experiences, and histories were interest. I made a delightful faux pas in kissing the daughter three times; let it be known: Two kisses in Quebec, three in France, and four in Paris. C’est la vie.

At one point during our conversations, a squirrel joined us for breakfast; it was injured, with at least a broken leg. This proved to be the only opportunity to pull out the 300/4 for the whole trip; everything else was shot with a 50, 17-40, or (occasionally) a 100 macro.

Anyhow, brunch was probably the best part of Montreal. Montreal is dull. At least the parts of Montreal I visited, anyhow. Other big cities have a lot more to offer, and small cities are more fascinating.

On the upside, their elevators aren’t retarded, and support negative integers:

Montreal’s signs are also excellent:

We walked quite a bit around Montreal, exploring the downtown and old city area; there were a lot of interesting sights, but not much of interest to do, unless you wanted to drop a quarter million dollars on charcoal printed limited edition books. Or a few hundred dollars for a cat food dish.

This was the coolest video game I saw in all of Canada; I wish we had it back home:

Basically, you pay some money, you get a free straw, put the straw in the machine, and it tells you whether you’d pass a breathalizer test or not. Genius! Every bar should have one. Profit and safety, all in one.

This isn’t to say that Montreal didn’t have a certain charm, per se, but given a day or two, Chicago, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco are all vastly more interesting places. Granted, there’s a size difference…

The ostensible highlight of the trip was to visit the Notre Dame cathedral; when we arrived, we were told the place was closed for a wedding. We witnessed no less than four couples being married while we were there. Sucks to be them, but sucked for us, since it meant we didn’t get to take the tour of the interior of the place, unless we wanted to come back for the double-price light show at 10. Screw that.

The drive to and around the world expo site was interesting, and we also got an opportunity to see habitat 67. On the downside we had to go through the casino parking garage, which wasn’t nearly as interesting.

The park in the middle of the city, whose name I forget, was horrendously expensive to visit, due to parking costs. Lacking no footpath approach, it’s pretty much only reachable via car or bus, which is sort of dumb. The view was nice, but not worth several dollars an hour to visit.

After a lackluster tour of the city, we drove a bit out of town and ate at a place called Clyde’s, a local bar in a sleepy town.

Having resisted to this point, we finally tried poutine; god bless:

Gravy. Cheese curds. French fries.

Pure.

Unadulterated.

Genius.

Made with good gravy, it would have been stellar. I think this will be the source of a personal gastronomic odyssey in the future.

After dinner, we took some photos in the dark, and then headed back to hotel hell.

As before, bigger pictures up on flickr in a bit.